The Ideal College Applications Timeline for 2022-2023

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Read The Ideal College Applications Timeline for 2022-2023

For rising seniors, summer is really the time to hit the ground running with your college applications. While you may have commitments with pre-college summer programs or other activities, the Common App personal statement and supplemental essays for EA/ED schools should not be put on the back burner. When you go back to school in August or September, you will have even more items on your plate — and less time to dedicate to writing quality essays and honing your activities list. The following is our recommended timeline for staying on track with your college applications:

June 1-20: Lining Up Recommendations and Brainstorming Essays

Think of two teachers who are likely to write glowing recommendations for you and ask for their support. Try to do this before your junior year ends or at the beginning of the summer so they have plenty of notice.

Also, use the first few weeks of June to brainstorm ideas for your Common App personal statement. This requires some deep thinking, not just writing about the first topic that comes to your mind. Remember that college admissions committees read a ton of these, so they will read your personal statement with the question “So what?” in the back of their minds. To grab their attention, you want to write something that is both impactful and meaningful. For 2022-2023, the essay prompts are the same as last year:

  1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  4. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
  5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

You should also use this time to consider your EA/ED/RD/ED2 choices. This will help guide you in terms of what supplemental essays you need to prioritize.

July 15: First Draft

By July 15, you should have a first draft of your Common App personal statement that meets the requirement of the 650-word limit. First drafts are never perfect, so don’t stress if you need to go back and make some changes.

Note for students applying to the University of California: This is also a good time to begin drafting the four essays that UC requires. Not only does this replace the Common App personal statement for UC, but working on those essays will also help you develop material that will come in handy for other schools’ supplemental essays.

August 1: Common App Account and School List

Creating your Common App account is fairly simple and requires only a few minutes. After creating your account, upload your school list (EA/ED/RD/ED2) and complete all the sections including your activities list. Keep in mind that you will want to edit your activities list if your activities/roles change once the school year begins.

If you are planning to apply to any University of California schools, please also set up your UC account this week!

You should also use the first week of August to begin drafting your supplemental essays for EA/ED schools. Your first round of supplemental essays will always be the hardest, so it is important to give yourself enough time.

August 15: Intermediate Draft of Personal Statement

By this date, you should have a solid intermediate draft of your Common App essay—and the same for your UC essays, if applicable. That means you have incorporated edits into your drafts. You don’t need to have a final product yet, but it should be well on its way in terms of establishing the theme, topic, focus, and structure.

August 16-31: Revisions and Recommendation Letters

During these two weeks, you will focus on revising your personal statement and supplemental essays, along with UC essays if you are applying there.

If you are applying to MIT or Georgetown, schools that don’t use the Common App, you’ll want to create those applications and start filling them out. You will likely be able to adapt at least some of the material from your Common App and/or UC essays to use — but you still want to make sure you respond to their questions and not just generically.

Try to take a look at your essays with fresh eyes every day. That way you can catch any mistakes or inconsistencies. Pro tip: Read your essay aloud. You will be surprised at how helpful this simple technique can be for catching errors!

If you haven’t already asked your teachers for recommendations, now is a good time to think about whom you want to ask and get them to commit. Also, if you are going to use an “optional recommender” such as a coach or an art teacher, get those lined up and ready to go. If you are applying to Dartmouth, please be aware that you will need a peer recommendation, so think about whom you plan to ask for that and have them start writing!

The Home Stretch

September 1

Your Common App personal statement should be complete. The only other edits will come after your high-school counselor provides comments. Once you have your personal statement done, you will feel much more confident and ready to take on the college application process!

September 10

Your EA/ED supplements should be done by this time. Again, the only other edits will come after your high-school counselor provides comments.

October 1

Finalize your Common Application! This includes activities plus entering courses and grades for any schools that require them, as well as loading in your essays. All UC applications should also be finalized during the first half of October.

October 25

All of your EA/ED apps should be submitted by this date!

November 1

UC apps should be submitted today!

November 2-30

Start working on supplemental essays for your RD schools.

If you are applying to the University of Southern California, work on those essays first so your application can be completed and submitted prior to USC’s priority deadline in mid-December.

December 5

Final drafts of all RD/ED2 essays should be loaded into the Common App and other applications.

December 5-15

This is when EA/ED decisions are usually announced.

December 22

Try to have all of your RD/ED2 applications submitted by December 22. This gives you some breathing space before the holidays kick in.

Follow this checklist and calendar, and you will be on your way to conquering college applications!


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